Cake Mix Recipe – Revamped

One of the most common questions that pops up in my email inbox and comment section here on MBA has to do with my favorite Doctored Up Cake Mix recipe from 2012.

When the recipe was originally shared, 18.25 ounce boxes were readily available at most supermarkets. They aren’t so attainable anymore. Most companies have now reduced the packaging down to about 15 ounces. They’ve changed the structure of the cake mix to get the same number of cakes and cupcakes with a smaller amount of product.

After responding to countless emails and comments regarding this recipe, I thought it was probably time that I address the change with an all new post. It took some tweaking and lots of cake taste testing (I’m not complaining), and I think finally have just the recipe for you.

I’ve tried it with several cake mix and pudding combinations with stellar results, so grab those mixes and let’s get to baking!

My Favorite Cake Mix Recipes

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes (pictured above)

Coconut Cupcakes

Heath Bar Cupcakes

Oreo Cake

Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes

Take 5 Cupcakes

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

Doctored Up Cake Mix Recipe - Revamped

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 18-22 minutes

Total Time: 32 minutes


  • 1 (15.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix (see note below)
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water (see note below)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla and espresso water mixture. Beat for about two minutes on medium speed until well combined.
  3. Using a large cookie scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells; about 3 tablespoons of batter per well.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, top with your favorite buttercream recipe.

For Bundt Cakes:

  1. Pour the batter into a well-greased, 12-cup bundt cake pan.
  2. Bake at 350°F for approximately 50 to 55 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  3. If desired, drizzle the cooled cake with your favorite recipe for chocolate ganache.

For Layer Cakes:

  1. Pour batter evenly between 2 greased 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
  3. Frost cooled cake with your favorite buttercream recipe.


  • My favorite Devil's Food Cake is Betty Crocker - Pudding in the mix.
  • If you don't have instant espresso granules, you can sub in 1/2 cup warm coffee.
  • The espresso in this recipe really just deepens the chocolate flavor, but if you aren't into the whole coffee thing, just use 1/2 cup warm water.
  • If you are using a different flavor of cake mix and pudding, simply omit the espresso granules and simply use 1/2 cup warm water.

204 Responses to “Cake Mix Recipe – Revamped”

  1. Ali — March 26, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    This worked beautifully for a character cake (Lightening McQueen) I tried today. Just had to increase the cook time a bit. Thanks!


    • Jamie — March 30, 2015 at 11:41 am

      I’m so glad the recipe worked out well for you. Thanks for visiting.


  2. Julie — April 20, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    I wanted to use the birthday chip cake mix what kind of pudding do you recommend for this one to add thanks Julie


    • Jamie — April 24, 2015 at 9:14 am

      I would use the vanilla pudding. I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by.


  3. Laurie — May 16, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this recipe!! I would rather make “from scratch” batter, but why when this tastes soooo good!! Every single time I make these, I get such wonderful compliments and no one can understand how I get them so moist! I always do this chocolate one, but am going to try a vanilla version for a “cupcake cake” for a friend of mine’s daughter this week. Thanks so much for the great go-to recipe!!


    • Jamie — May 22, 2015 at 11:17 am

      I’m so glad the recipe is working for you. Thanks so much for stopping by.


  4. Amy — May 19, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Hi Jamie,
    Can I sub the oil for melted butter?


    • Jamie — May 22, 2015 at 11:14 am

      You can substitute oil for the butter. I hope this helps. Thanks for visiting.


  5. aurora Dooling — June 4, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    i want to make a yellow cake do I use the same recipe as the chocolate except the choc pudding and coffee? Thank you


    • Jamie — June 27, 2015 at 10:22 am

      I have used yellow cake mix with this recipe and substituted in vanilla pudding and omitted the coffee. I hope this helps.

  6. Debbie S — June 15, 2015 at 7:24 pm


    I’ve made this recipe close to a dozen times now coupled with PB Frosting and it is the shiz-nit!! It may start off as a box mix, but with all the additions, it totally qualifies as “from scratch!” Thanks for sharing the recipe and being the martyr to test sample so many to make it just perfect!!



    • Jamie — June 16, 2015 at 9:31 am

      I’m so glad the recipe is working for you. Thanks so much for stopping by.


  7. Roune' — July 30, 2015 at 9:43 am


    So if i use the Betty Crocker Devil’s food cake mix should I still use pudding mix too?


    • Jamie — August 9, 2015 at 9:17 am

      Yes, you’ll still add the dry pudding to the cake batter. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. SW — July 30, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    I am making a minion cake (sheet cake 9 x 13) will this recipe work for a sheet cake? If so what temperature and time would you recommend when baking this cake. Please help I’m making this tomorrow.



    • Jamie — August 9, 2015 at 9:19 am

      Yes, this cake works fine as a 9×13. I would start checking it at 30 minutes. I hope this helps.

  9. Dory — August 7, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    I’m definitely going to be trying this recipe soon!

    I know you’ve updated it for the 15.25 ounce boxes, but I’ve noticed at least in the area I live in, the 18.25 ounce boxes are found at Target, while grocery stores are carrying the smaller ones. Hope that helps!


    • Jamie — August 9, 2015 at 9:09 am

      Thanks so much, Dory! Have a great day and I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  10. Mary Suzette — November 2, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    This is the absolutely BEST cake recipe I’ve ever tried! I’ve been searching so long for a cake recipe from scratch, but they never came out right. I never would have imagined to “doctor” a simple cake mix! I’ve used this for different cake flavors (chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet), and people swear they taste homemade! You know you’ve found perfection when you stop looking for other recipes. Thank you so much for sharing! =)


    • Jamie — January 12, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Mary Suzette: you are welcome! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  11. May — November 25, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Is it  possible to leave out the pudding entirely?


    • Jamie — January 13, 2016 at 8:36 am

      Hi, May! I suppose you could, but I think the pudding makes the cake extra moist and delicious. Let me know how it turns out!

  12. Valerie — December 6, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    FABULOUS! You are my hero. This solved SO many problems / challenges for me. Hands down winner — everyone loved it, and it was perfect for cake construction.


  13. Rachael — January 4, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    I have a cake mix box that is 16.5 oz. Do you have a doctored up cake mix recipe for this size? Thanks in advance.


    • Jamie — January 13, 2016 at 11:18 am

      Hi, Rachael! The easiest way I can think of doing this is (if you have a kitchen scale) to take 1.25 oz of cake mix from your box and use the 15.5 oz remainder in the recipe. I think it may turn out to be 3 tablespoons. I hope this helps!

  14. Kiyanna — January 21, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Can I omit the chocolate pudding? What will happen if I do?


    • Jamie — January 22, 2016 at 9:28 am

      I haven’t attempted this recipe without the pudding mix, but I can guess that the texture will be a bit different. If you give if a try let me know the outcome. Thanks so much!

  15. Dawn — January 22, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    I’m going to make you cupcakes for baby shower. Will they dry out if I stick them in the fridge overnight?


    • Jamie — January 22, 2016 at 6:24 pm

      Nope, they’ll be completely fine. Enjoy!

  16. Rica — January 26, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    I have followed this recipe for quite some time and it’s great! I’ve done it with all the different cake box flavors but I am worried about white cake mix. Do you think I can still follow this recipe with just the egg whites?


    • Jamie — January 26, 2016 at 5:09 pm

      Hi, Rica! Give it a try! You probably would want to omit the instant espresso, for color purposes. Let me know how it turns out!

  17. Lisa — March 6, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Hi there,
    I love this recipe, cupcakes are so moist and taste amazing!! Do you have a tip on how to do the same but in vanilla flavour? I have tried white and yellow cake mixes,  following the same directions and add more vanilla, but they sink.. I really want to find a way to have vanilla ones that will taste as good as these chocolate ones do:)


    • Jamie — March 7, 2016 at 10:21 am

      Hi, Lisa! I’m glad you enjoyed the cupcakes. As far as the white and yellow ones go, several things could be causing the cake to fall: overbeating, the oven temperature is a little off, making sure the cake is right on the center in the middle of the oven. Does this help? Let me know if you have any more questions!

  18. Jennifer — March 17, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Hey, Jamie.  I want to make strawberry cupcakes, and I want the cake to be strawberry (pink).  Do you think the doctored up cake mix recipe would work well with a strawberry cake mix and strawberry geletin?

    Thanks for your help!


    • Jamie — March 17, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      I haven’t tried this recipe with strawberry gelatin, but I know Jell-o makes a strawberry pudding that might work perfectly. I’ve seen it numerous times at Walmart. I hope this helps.

  19. Jennifer — March 17, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Thank you, Jamie!


    • Jamie — March 17, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      You’re very welcome, Jennifer!

  20. Gina — March 18, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    I was wondering how this would taste if I subbed a different flavor of pudding. I don’t happen to have chocolate but I have cheesecake and white chocolate. Ever tried a different flavor?


    • Jamie — March 19, 2016 at 7:32 am

      Hi, Gina! I think you should give it a try! Let me know how it turns out!

  21. Mitzi — March 24, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Have you ever tried this with white cake mix and vanilla pudding?


    • Jamie — March 26, 2016 at 11:09 am

      Hi, Mitzi! You should definitely try it! Let me know how it goes!

  22. Chyanne — April 1, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    My batter came out thick almost like biscuit dough, I have the 16.9 oz mix, and I added an extra tbl of oil and a tbl of wine, but the batter is still thicker than what I’m used to, is that how it is supposed to be? If not, how can I fix it?


    • Jamie — April 1, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      The batter is definitely thicker than a typical cake mix batter. I hope this helps.

  23. Aubrey — April 7, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Hello Jaime,

    I’m planning on making these cup cakes for my son’s 3rd birthday. This is the first time that I’m attempting to make my own rather than ordering it at a bakery. I was wondering if you have any tips on how to store the cupcakes? If I make it one day prior to his birthday party would you recommend storing it in the fridge or at room temperature? Would it be better if I frosted the cupcakes before storing it or should I frost it the day of the party (in the morning). Thanks in advance !


    • Jamie — April 8, 2016 at 11:03 am

      Hi, Aubrey! I would store the cupcakes at room temperature in a covered airtight container. I think you’ll be fine if you frost the cupcakes ahead of time, but frosting the day of the party might be the best bet. Happy birthday to him!

  24. Conny — April 13, 2016 at 5:52 am

    Intried the recipe , it tasted great but they sank…. What did I do wrong?


    • Jamie — April 13, 2016 at 8:36 am

      I have never experienced this recipe sinking, but typically that is due to undercooking. You’ll want to make sure the cake or cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. I hope this helps! Happy baking.

  25. conny — April 15, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Jamie – 
    I have read all the questions and your comments above, and I just baked 2 loads of lemon cupcakes and the vanilla cupcakes are in the oven. I made sure to measure all the ingredients exact and took care not to over mix the batter, I gave them an extra minute in the oven and the result is 

    PERFECTION!!!!!!!!! :-) I love them – delicious, moist and beautiful!!!!

    Thank you soon much!!!! 



    • Jamie — April 16, 2016 at 9:06 am

      I’m so glad you liked them, Conny!

  26. Joanna — April 18, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Hello!  I am planning to make this recipe into cupcakes for my son’s second birthday.  I realized I accidentally bought cook and serve pudding instead of instant pudding.  Do you think it will make a difference?


    • Jamie — April 19, 2016 at 10:29 am

      Hi, Joanna! I think the cook and serve will be just fine. Let me know how it goes!

  27. Carmen — April 21, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Do you k ow how long I would need to cook for mini cupcakes? Thanks 


    • Jamie — April 22, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      Hi, Carmen! I would check around 9 to 10 minutes for doneness during baking. I hope you enjoy them!

  28. Marenda Hubbard — April 24, 2016 at 10:33 am

    this is one of the best that i have ever tried so now i use no other recipe


    • Jamie — April 25, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoy it, Marenda!

  29. Linda Collins — April 29, 2016 at 10:29 am

    I have made this recipe several times and it is absolutely PERFECT. I am making my granddaughter’s birthday cake and will be using an 11 x 15 pan and doubling the mix. Can you tell me how much time to plan on for baking? Thanks for the most perfect recipe using a mix I have ever used.


    • Jamie — April 29, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Hi, Linda! Is your pan 2 inches deep or 3 inches deep? My best guess is bake for about 35 minutes, but definitely check as it goes along. I hope this helps. Thank you for your kind words!

  30. MandyLou — April 29, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    I love this recipe for bundt pudding cakes…although, I have only used it as a guide. The two variations i made were:

    “Almond Joy”, I used almond extract in place of vanilla and toasted coconut pudding, then topped it with a dark chocolate ganache and toasted sliced almonds and toasted shredded coconut. AMAZING!

    My other variation was White Chocolate Orange. With this one I added white chips and orange zest, and used orange juice in place of water. I topped it with a white chocolate ganache with orange zest. YUM! My favorite is the Almond Joy, but they are both great. Thanks for your amazing tips!


    • Jamie — May 1, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      You’re welcome, MandyLou! Both of your variations sound amazing!

  31. Lisa — May 10, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    What pudding mix would I use to make a red velvet one? I tried chocolate and the look and taste came out more chocolate and not red velvet?


    • Jamie — May 11, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      Hi, Lisa! Maybe use a combination of chocolate and vanilla? Let me know how it goes!

  32. Hollye — May 14, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    I used this recipe to make cupcakes for a potluck at my son’s school. Mine were the only cupcakes that were gone at the end of the day. They were amazing. Everyone kept asking who made the cupcakes and when they found out they had to come tell me how wonderful they were. This is my go to cake recipe now. I’m making my husband a birthday cake with as we speak. 


    • Jamie — May 16, 2016 at 10:59 am

      That makes me so happy, Hollye! I’m really glad everyone enjoyed them!

  33. Kim — May 19, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    I’m about to make a boy’s birthday cake and some of the other chocolate cake recipes I’ve seen seem a bit too intense for a child. This one looks great and the reviews are fantastic. My only question is about the pudding. I’ve seen other recipes include pudding, but they say to NOT include the pudding if the cake mix already includes pudding. Are you suggesting to do both – use a cake mix WITH pudding mix in it AND an additional pack of pudding mix? Just clarifying, as I want to make sure I don’t blow this!  Thank you so much!  :)


    • Jamie — May 20, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Hi, Kim! I don’t think extra pudding will ruin the recipe. I hope everyone enjoys it!

  34. Kim — May 19, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot the other part of my question. Does this stack well? I need to do an 8″ and 6″ tiered. Thank you!!


    • Jamie — May 20, 2016 at 10:34 am

      No worries, Kim! I think these should stack just fine. Let me know how everything goes!

  35. Jessie — May 31, 2016 at 10:38 am

    I just tried this and am very disappointed. I had to throw out two batches. The batter was super thick and kind of just weird looking- very sticky I guess is the word. And then the cakes never baked up- the sides did and the middle sank. :(


    • Jamie — June 2, 2016 at 9:51 am

      I’m so sorry to hear that, Jessie! Let me know if I can answer any other questions for you. It’s frustrating when things like that happen.

  36. Kate — June 4, 2016 at 8:19 am

    I’m making this cake later today for my son’s birthday!  Can’t wait to try it.  I noticed the original recipe has mini chocolate chips instead of espresso.  What did you find the difference to be?  Can I add mini chocolate chips to this?  How much should I use?  Thanks!


    • Jamie — June 6, 2016 at 9:06 am

      Hi, Kate! Both recipes call for espresso. If you’d like to use mini chocolate chips in the batter, please do so–it sounds wonderful! Just add as much as you see fit…maybe 1/2 cup? Your choice! I hope you enjoy it!

  37. Kate — June 4, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Made this today for my son’s second birthday and it came out great!  I’ve tried a few from scratch chocolate cakes before but they were always disappointing.  This one was amazing!  Not only was it simple, the cake baked perfectly, nice and level, moist and delicious!  I added semi sweet mini chocolate chips and used chocolate mousse filling.  This is my new go to chocolate cake recipe!


    • Jamie — June 6, 2016 at 9:01 am

      I’m so glad you liked it, Kate! And happy birthday to your son!

  38. Crystal — June 23, 2016 at 11:09 am

    When omitting the coffee in a vanilla cake, vanilla pudding alternative, do you have to add any other liquid? I know by omitting that takes away 1/2 cup of liquid to the batter. 


    • Jamie — June 24, 2016 at 6:53 am

      Hi, Crystal! You could probably just add a little water. Let me know how it goes!

  39. Lisa Befus — July 14, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Hi.  Does this work for making a stacked wedding cake?  Thanks.


    • Jamie — July 17, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      Hi, Lisa! I think this should be great for a stacked wedding cake. Let me know how it goes!

  40. Amy — August 1, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Do you know if yogurt can be substituted for the sour cream? I have both plain and vanilla yogurt, but no sour cream, at the moment. Thanks!


    • Jamie — August 4, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      I thick plain Greek yogurt would work really well. Thanks for stopping by.

  41. Ann K — September 9, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Just want to say thank you for this recipe!! I use a gluten free box mix (family with wheat allergies) and it is amazing! Just used this recipe in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry (found strawberry cream pudding mix) for my little one’s birthday and I had no leftovers! Trying out a pumpkin spice version right now. Thanks for making me look like a baker!!


    • Jamie — September 9, 2016 at 9:21 am

      You’re so welcome, Ann! Thank you for your kind words!

  42. Katie — September 16, 2016 at 11:10 am

    will this recipe work in high altitude? 7300 ft?


    • Jamie — September 17, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      I think it should be just fine, Katie. I would increase the baking time just a bit. Let me know how it goes!

  43. Juanita — September 25, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Is the batter supposed to be thick? My batter was thick like pudding. I was worried I did something wrong.


    • Jamie — September 30, 2016 at 11:03 am

      How did the cake turn out, Juanita? I think the batter consistency might have been ok. Let me know!

  44. Juanita — September 27, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    I followed this recipe and the mix came out very thick to where I had to spread it in the pan. When it baked it sunk and was very dense when it cooled and I cut into it. I tasted okay but it wasn’t moist and cake like. I will not make it this way again.


    • Jamie — September 28, 2016 at 9:27 am

      I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you, Juanita. If you decide to give it another try, let me know the turnout. Thanks for your feedback!

  45. Tammi — October 9, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Love! Love! Love! I think the pudding is the key. It’s the first time I’ve used pudding in a recipe. This is now my go-to chocolate cake recipe!


    • Jamie — October 11, 2016 at 8:41 am

      I’m so happy to hear you liked it, Tammi!

  46. Adrianne — November 9, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Will adding chocolate chips be a problem to the batter?


    • Jamie — November 16, 2016 at 7:20 am

      Hi, Adrianne! I think adding chocolate chips would be wonderful! Toss them in a bit of flour just to be sure they don’t sink while baking. Let me know how it goes!

  47. Nancy L — March 18, 2017 at 12:35 am

    Made this exactly…nice thick batter,  came out beautifully. I made half as cupcakes ,  the rest as one 8″ layer. Poured some raspberry syrup I had made over the split  layer. Frosted with coconut cream cheese frosting. Absolutely delicious!  Thank you!


    • Jamie — March 18, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Sounds amazing, Nancy! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  48. Sandra — May 18, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Hi! I am going to make this cake tonight and was wondering if I could replace the coffee with stout beer. One of my favorite chocolate cake recipes is a Guinness chocolate stout cake. Also, can you pick up the coffee taste in this recipe? It is for a pre-teen birthday party. Thanks!


    • Jamie — May 19, 2017 at 10:27 am

      Hi, Sandra! I’ve never used stout in this recipe, but I think you could give it a try. I have a recipe for Chocolate Stout Cake if that helps at all. You won’t taste the coffee…it’ll just enhance the chocolate flavor. Enjoy!

  49. Jenn Haynes — May 31, 2017 at 10:48 am

    I’ve used this recipe for so many of my experiments. I make pb&j cupcakes with white mix, your pb frosting, and I inject grape jelly into the cupcakes. Shirley Temple cupcakes with a cherry icing and white mix, using lemon lime soda instead of espresso or water and a little lime zest, reserving some of the batter and coloring it red, placing it at the bottom of each cupcake, and baking a cherry into the center. Chocolate covered cherry cupcakes with cherry icing and a cherry in the center. The list goes on. Thank you for such a versatile recipe!


    • Jamie — June 1, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      Thank you, Jenn! Your variations sound amazing!

Leave a Comment